Quick Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

I will be honest and say that I’m not sure how I feel about this novel. On the one hand it was entertaining but on the other it was incredibly long. The major mystery was solved and the villain was dispatched and yet there was still another 100 pages left in the book. Bryce is a half human half fae who likes to party. Her best friend, Dannika who is a Wolf Shifter is often her partner in crime when they go out. Tragedy strikes when Dannika and her pack are brutally murdered and it sends Bryce into a deep depression. She doesn’t start to come out of it until she is given the opportunity to help with the investigation. She is paired with Hunt a fallen angel slave who has no choice but do help in hope of winning his freedom back. It’s a pretty decent murder mystery as they follow the clues to what happen to Dannika and how it ties in to another crime as well. Bryce and Hunt are both fun characters and have a love of fun dialogue between the two of them. For fans of Sarah J Maas books, I think will enjoy this one too. It has a lot of the same hallmarks, witting dialogue filled with imaginative characters and magic. The one issue I have is the length of the novel. As I alluded to in the beginning, it had a really nice ending that wrapped up the mystery and dealt with the bad guy but there was still a 100 pages left to read. I understand that events in the last pages were crucial to character development but it could have been added to the next book or at least edited it down. This book didn’t need to have so much in it. It would have been okay to spread things out a little more instead of having it all in one. Let’s hope the next book is little bit more economical with it’s story.

Beth’s Favorite Books of 2019

It’s that time of the year.where we all take a moment and look back at all the books that we read this year and try to narrow it down to our favorites. I read 42 books this year which is actually less then normal but that’s okay. It’s quality over quantity right? How do you pick a favorite? Do you go by the book that you just coulnd’t put down? The one you wanted to reread as soon as you finished? The one that gave you the most feels good or bad? All of the above? It’s really hard to choose but I will do my best.

The list is in the order I read them this year as I’m chickening out in saying which one if my favorite favorite. It was too hard to choose.

  1. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – This was honest and heart breaking as a young girl finds her voice through many challenges.
  2. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker – Girl Pirates. That’s it. I mean what else do you want in a book? Besides some great characters. Interesting world building and twist and turns around every corner. The sequel Steel Tide is just as good.
  3. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee – I really wished this wasn’t a standalone because they are so many adventures awaiting Min. Such a fun story and adventure.
  4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – This book was a couple of years old but I never got around to reading. I’m glad that I finally did because I couldn’t put the trilogy down.
  5. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – What do you get when a Witch, a vampire and a former wizard with wings and a tail take a road trip? The coolest car ride ever!
  6. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – Traumatic and harrowing but a good mystery. I’m truly intrigued on where it goes from here.
  7. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater – Ronan Lynch is one of my favorite Maggie characters so I was pretty sure I was going to like this book but I surprised at how much I felt for Declan Lynch and new character Jordan.
  8. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black– No one does fairies like Holly Black and the finale to your the Folk of the Air trilogy proves why.

What were your favorite books of 2019? Comment down below and let us know what books we need to add to our stacks.

Top Posts of 2019

These are the Posts from this year that you all really loved! Let’s revisit them, shall we?

  1. Review: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – This was a fun series from two great authors.
  2. Quick Review: Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro – Another great series with a new take on some favorite characters.
  3. Review: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson – I love a good mystery and this has been top notch.
  4. Quick Review: The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jennifer Gunter – Twitter’s gynecologist answers all your questions about women’s health and demystifies some long standing myths that really need to go.
  5. Quick Review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard – Short story collection from the world of Red Queen.
  6. Reading Challenges – Who doesn’t love a challenge?
  7. What I’m Reading Now: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) by Lorna Landvik – Such a great title.
  8. Reality is Stranger than Fiction – This post by author Sherrilyn Kenyon was hard to believe. It’s like a novel.
  9. 24 in 48 – Kate attempted to read 24 books in 48 hours.
  10. Not a Review: Circe by Madeline Miller -” This isn’t a review so much as a scream into the void ” maybe the best line ever written on this blog ever.

Quick Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Alex Stern is the only survivor of a brutal attack but that’s the beginning of our story. Out of the blue she gets an offer to join a secret society that monitors other secret society and a full ride to Yale. It’s an opportunity to start over and put her past as a teenage runaway, drug attic and victim behind her. Of course it won’t be easy. Alex has a unique ability that makes her valuable to Lethe, the society that monitors the most powerful Secret societies in the world, She can see ghosts or the dead. Lethe is charged to make sure that the rituals of the societies don’t go to far. When you play with magic anything can happen. Alex is mentored by Darlington. While Alex may not be suited for Yale Darlington was born to it. He grew up in Yale and is in love with New Haven. He’s one of those guys that is just too good for his own good. There are a couple of mysteries that are weaved together to make this such an interesting story. Darlington goes missing and no one knows where he went. Why did Alex survive when everyone else in the house died? How does the murder on Campus have to do with societies. All of these mysteries work together to complete a compelling story of magic, wealth, privilege and class social structure. Sexual abuse and assault also plays a part in the narrative and at times is described in graphic detail so be aware. Alex, herself a victim or sexual assault as well as other abuse. It’s heartbreaking but also unfortunately all too realistic in today’s society. So, yes read at your own risk but for mystery lovers, for ghost story lovers or those fascinating by magic this book is worth the read. .

Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks Results

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

So how did I do with this year’s challenge.  Pretty good, I think.  I read a few books that I normally wouldn’t have read and other books I would have because I love the authors.  I didn’t complete the challenge though and I’m sad about that.  Will have to do better in 2018.

  1. A Book with a Trans Narrator: Eddie Izzard in Believe Me by Eddie Izzard
  2. Queer Narrator: Apollo in The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  3. African American Narrator: John Lewis in March Vols. 1-3 by John Lewis
  4. African Narrator: Did not complete
  5. Narrators from various socio-economic backgrounds: Rainey, Rio and Frangie from Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  6. Asian-American Narrator: Lara Jean in Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and Daniel in The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  7. Disabled Narrator: Call from The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  8. Narrator that survived Abuse: Feyre, Rhysand, and pretty much every character in A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  9. Asian Narrator: Sunja in Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee
  10. Native American Narrator: Did not complete
  11. Mexican Narrator: Cristina in Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
  12. Indigenous Mexican Narrator: Did not complete
  13. Muslim Narrator: Kamala in Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
  14. Jewish Narrator: Rainey in Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  15. Atheist Narrator: Magnus Chase in Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

So I competed 12 out of 15, which isn’t bad but I was really hoping to do all 15.  How well did you do this year?

 

My Top 10 Books of 2017

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According to GoodReads.com I read 20,948 pages from 57 books. So you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to only 10 for the best books I’ve read this year.  There were so many good ones!  I think I ultimately went with these 10 was because while I may have liked some of the other books more or given other’s better reviews or more stars, these 10 books stuck with me longer after finishing reading them.  I would like to think that our Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks: Diverse Narrators reading challenge is working for me because half of the books were written by Women of Color and they contain protagonists from very diverse backgrounds.  That’s exciting to me but enough of this, let’s get on to the list.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– This book was as heartbreaking as it was realistic.  Starr is caught between two worlds but doesn’t really how different they are or how truly different she acts to accommodate both parts of her life until her friend is killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop and she is the only witness.  This really should be a must read in all schools for generations to come and I’m excited that it will also be a movie coming out next year.
  2. Pyromantic by Lish McBride– It’s funny, it’s sarcastic, it’s action packed but mostly it is just plain fun.  I really hope that Lish returns to these characters because there is just so much weirdness she can do with them.
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor-This is such a lush story with great imagery and original concept.  There really isn’t another novel out there right now.  The ending was such a surprise that I have no idea what to expect in the sequel.
  4. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon-Just like The Hate U Give, this is another heartbreaking but all too realistic look at today’s youth.  To strangers, meet and share a life changing day as Natasha fights to stop her family from being deported and Daniel fights the expectations of being a child of immigrants.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin-How do you describe this book?  It  has so much going on and it’s not certain how they all interweave but you know they must somehow.  It’s truly a powerful book it’s no wonder it’s won so many awards.
  6. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray-The third book in The Diviners series takes place in the 1920’s but with it’s themes of race, gender equality and science it’s more relevant than you would think.  Evie, Sam, Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Ling Henry and Isiah have to overcome the coming darkness but also the social limits society places on those in the minority.
  7. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater-People come from far and wide to seek miracles from the Saints of Bicho Raro but even saints themselves need miracles and sometimes those miracles can’t be achieved on their own, sometimes they need a little help from others. That’s the lesson from this one, it’s great to self sufficient but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  8. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan-A great ending to a great trilogy and the power of how diversity makes us stronger.
  9. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake-It’s dark and mysterious but also cool to read of world where women rule and men play supportive roles.  That women are just as complicated and conflicted and are able to be both and still show strength and vulnerability.  Here we get three young women who all of those things and more.
  10. WarCross by Marie Lu-This was fun and exciting thrill of a book.  Full of mystery and kind of a spy novel in a way.  Emika a down on her luck, hacker/bounty hunter gets a chance to play in the biggest game ever in hopes of finding another hacker trying to sabotage the game.  It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.

So these are my favorite books of 2017.  What are yours?

Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

pachinko

**Spoilers**

This was a credibly well written and crafted novel.  I was really taken in by this family and their struggles and triumphs.  Pachinko follows one Korean family from 1910-1989 from their home in south of Korea to Japan.  When Yangjin’s daughter sixteen year old daughter, Sunja gets pregnant and the father can’t marry her. a boarder at her boarding house agrees to Marry her and take her to Japan with him to spare her and her family any shame.  Being a Korean living in Imperial Japan at the time was not easy.  They were often discriminated against and limited in their movements thanks to racist policies.  As the family tries to find ways to survive through poverty, war time and other personal tragedy it tears them apart and brings them together. If there is one thing that I got out of this novel is that no matter where women live, what their station in life is or what religion they practice.  Their choices are pretty shit.  Sunja finds herself pregnant from a secret affair with a wealthy businessman.  When she finds out that he can’t marry her because he already has a wife and three daughters back in Japan she walks away.  His offer of being his Korean wife and him buying her house and taken care of her is not enough.  She will never be his true wife but also being an unwed mother will bring shame on her and her family.  When a young pastor falls ill in her family’s boardinghouse, she and her mother help him get better.  Isek is convinced he was sent to them on purpose to help them as they helped him so he agrees to marry her and take her with her to Osaka.  This will spare the family of the shame.  At 16, Sunja choices are to be destitute and shunned from society or marry a complete stranger and move to another country.  Isek is a kind man and takes good care of her and their sons.  He raises Noa as his own flesh and blood and does what he can to provide for his family and his brother and sister in law.  They do grow to have mutual understanding and good marriage.  It’s a shame that Isek dies early in the book due to unfairly imprisoned for political reasons but I wanted to know more about him.  Their children Noa and Mozasu are two very different children.  They both struggle to find their identity as Koreans born in Japan and lived their whole lives but still looked at as foreigners.  I’m sure this is something many children of immigrants can relate too.  Noa and Mozasu both represent the “good Korean” and the “bad Korean”. Noa was always the good student who believed that if was good, if he studied hard and was the best in his class who would be able to overcome prejudices and be accepted only to ultimately discover that years of hate is not easily overcome, particularly when the hate comes from within.  Mozasu on the other hand understood early that you can’t change people’s mind.  If people wanted to label him the “bad Korean” he would comply and ultimately was able to succeed.

I’ll admit I know very little about Korean history or their relationship to Japan.  Considering we could be at war with North Korea very soon this seems like a big oversight on our parts.  The Koreans were overtaken by Japan and forced in to be second class citizens in their own country.  When they moved to Japan things were not better.  They were limited on what jobs they could get.  They had to live in a ghetto. Even their chosen professions were looked down upon.  Pachinko, a kind of gambling was seen as criminal activity and often thought of us gangsters.  After World War Two when Japan lost their war their situation became even more precarious.  They were not anymore welcomed in Japan then before but with uncertainty at home they couldn’t go back to Korea.  If they did, do they go back to North or South Korea.  In a way they became homeless, which seems even sadder since for characters like Noa, Mozasu, Yumi and Solomon who were all born and raised in Japan.  This is the only home they ever knew and yet they never treated like they belonged.  There is a pretty powerful scene of Solomon, the son of Mozasu so 2nd generation Korean Japanese, having to go to the home department and register so he can stay in the country he was born in.  I would say that would be crazy but then I remember what’s going on in our country and it doesn’t seem so crazy that a country would do that to it’s people.  There is also discussions on women’s role.  Sunja from the very beginning is a hard worker and finds it hard to stay stagnant.  When Isek is imprisoned and the family is desperate for money, she steps up and starts selling kimchi by the train station despite warnings from his brother in law that women must work.  She is industries and does what she needs to do to keep her family fed and sheltered.  It is her strength that keeps the family going.  At one point, Koh Hansu, who got her pregnant at the beginning of the story, shows up and sends them to a farm out of the city to save them from the end of the war.  I was angry that after what he did and could just show up and play hero.  Like how dare he?  Sunja rejects him over and over again but he always comes back.  So infuriating.

I’m glad that we are doing our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives challenge because I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have this book otherwise and I would have missed out on a wonderful story.